Mono-Black is Back!

Mono-black, just like Star Wars or Rick and Morty fandom, can be like a cult religion. Sure, people are going to play the flavor of the week to try and win some matches, but there is some alluring call of a list sporting 22 basic Swamps.

It’s a sickness really… a Pox, or maybe even a Smallpox, that pulls us back to the glory days of Vampires, Necropotence, or using a Mirari to copy Corrupts, and makes us want to sing a Hymn to Tourach in the pop style of *NSYNC-hole while busting some funky Dance of the Dead moves.

I’m always on the lookout for sweet new decks, and I had a lot of time to scout this weekend. First life lesson—always preregister for events far in advance. I ended up 3 hours en route to an event when I found out preregistration had been capped and I wouldn’t be able to play. Don’t cry for me, New Phyrexia—the truth is I never loved Pack Rat. It was an interesting experience to attend a Magic event purely as a spectator, but it was fun to watch a ton of matches.

The coolest deck that I got to watch in action, by a wide margin, was a sweet Mono-Black Aggro/combo deck. 22 Swamps—enough said.

Mono-Black Aggro

Paul VanEvery

First of all, I’d like to thank Paul VanEvery for taking the time to share his deck list with me in between rounds of his event. He told me that he had found a version of the deck online, had been tuning the list, and really enjoyed playing it.

He was playing against my friend Max, and I walked up to watch. The first thing I noticed was that his lands were 5 Swamps, and I remember thinking to myself, “Max is in great shape because his B/G Constrictor opponent is mana-screwed.” But I quickly figured out that my friend was in trouble because the mono-black deck was doing mono-black stuff…

The first bonus of playing mono-black is that if you draw lands, you basically have perfect mana, which is an obvious boon in a single color deck.

On the surface the deck is a typical mono-black deck—efficient creatures and great removal. As far as flavorful black decks go, kill spells with Vampires is pretty dark.

If it flies, crews, or slithers, kill it.

Only a fool would pick Team Jacob on Innistrad.

These are “great rate” creatures and removal spells that reward you for playing a heavy black mana base—lots of double-color commitment that comes easy. Aside from having a lot of removal, the deck also has a lot of deathtouch, which can double as removal when attacking or blocking.

The lifelink creatures are also good at keeping your head above water against aggressive strategies, especially with Drana to continue to add power and toughness.

The niftiest angle of this deck is that it has a bunch of really sweet +1/+1 counter synergies.

Metallic Mimic does a few things here. First, the deck has a Vampire theme, so curving out with big Vampires is legitimate. BB for a 3/4 Gifted Aetherborn is no joke, and neither is Kalitas. Metallic Mimic is also quite a combo with Weaponcraft Enthusiast.

I love it when Danger Room favorites make a niche appearance in Standard!

The true beauty of Metallic Mimic is in combination with Animation Module. If you name “Servo” with Metallic Mimic and are able to put a +1/+1 counter onto something, you can pay 1 to make a Servo. Metallic Mimic will cause the Servo to enter play with a +1/+1 counter on it and the Module will trigger again. Basically, for every 1 mana you pay when Module triggers you can make that many 2/2 Servos.

It’s like a build-your-own Sword of the Meek + Thopter Foundry combo in Standard! Now you just need Hexmage and Dark Depths

“Here’s the church. Here’s the steeple. Open the doors and WHAT THE HECK IS THAT THING!!! AHHH!!!”

One of the cool things about the deck is that it can transform an army of Servos into a giant flying lifelink creature against Vehicles like Heart of Kiran. It’s a great trump card to have in matchups where going bigger than the other deck is important. At the very least it is Fumigate insurance against Jeskai.

Mono-black versus control. A matchup as old as Magic itself.

I’m a big fan of having access to these great anti-control cards in the sideboard. I’m also a big fan of the Ruinous Paths for the 4-Color Saheeli ‘Walkers deck and against the Mardu Vehicles decks that tend to bring in a lot of ‘walkers and Fumigate against creature decks.

Black Mamba?

One thing I wonder about a deck like this is if it would actually gain from splashing green for Winding Constrictor. The deck already has so many +1/+1 counter synergies and combos going on that the card feels like it would be really strong here. Obviously, I haven’t gotten a chance to test any games, but it’s something I’m going to be thinking about before the RPTQ next weekend!

I don’t know why, but mono-black decks have always and will always be cool. Actually, I do know why mono-black decks are cool—they are the villains of MTG. Mardu Vehicles and 4-Color Saheeli may be the Elvis Presley, a.k.a. “The King,” of Standard, but mono-black is the Johnny Cash Man in Black. Elvis may have sold more records, but Cash gets all the style points in my book.

Thanks again to Paul VanEvery for sharing his awesome list with me.

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